Sunday, March 26, 2006

Green Party Convention

It is clear that the one reason that the Green Party took place in Kilkenny Mary White. In the last General election Deputy Leader Mary White was eliminated on the 7th of 8 counts. Gaining transfers 10% of all transfers. She is one of the hopes for a seat in the next Dail for the greens. In his opening speech Trevor Sargent said she is “what the green party is all about”. But what does the Convention say about the Green Party.

By all accounts and these accounts are basically Green Party accounts the Convention seems to have been quiet good old time with the best crèche facilities of all of the parties and Organic wine. John Gormley hit back at Nazi jibbing Michael McDowell with a Nazi Jibe. It is great to see that the lost art of using the suffering of millions under the Nazi’s to score political points is not the sole preserve of any particular party. But outside the greens normal environmental issues and the obvious Reduce Class Sizes at Primary and Second level ( I mean what party is going to say they are going to increase calls sides) what of the larger issues.

The Greens idea is to tax smarter basically by basically trying to close some of the loop holes that the rich use to get of paying taxes. Basically there tax policy is as follows

to review, and where necessary decrease, the amount of tax relief that can be claimed in any given year by any single individual or company; • to relegate the use of residency as a means to avoid tax, confirming the principle that all money earned in Ireland and all wealth based in Ireland must be liable to tax; • to immediately rescind the most inequitable tax relief’s on capital and property; and • to introduce, on a smaller scale, tax relief’s with defined and measurable social, economic and environmental benefits.

Overall I have to say I agree with the above policies. The nature of tax relief’s is not to avoid tax but to encourage investment that is required by society. Back in the day people were needed to be encouraged to invest in property where it was required for instance student housing however now with the housing boom property tax relief’s have little place in all but various niece areas such as crèches. The fact that some millionaires are getting away with out paying taxes is wrong. However considering that in Ireland roughly the top 1% of the population pay 20% of the tax (correct me if I am wrong). This may not be as big an issue as it seems. On the issues of Education they had

1) Invest €1 billion in additional current/capital funding for education over and above the 2006 Estimates and Budget for the first year of the next Government's term of office, to front-load educational priorities;

2) Draw up a 10-Year Priority Funding Plan for Education within six months of entering office;

3) Commission a full cost-benefit analysis on the revenue implications to the State of further increased investment in education and, if it can be shown that an increased investment will pay for itself in the long term, we will:

4) Retain the additional €1 billion investment for each of a further nine years, index-linked to the first year's investment.

I have to say I am disappointed by this while it looks good it is short on content. Throwing money at a problem is never going to solve the problem. Education needs to be radically overhauled primarily and primary level. The essence of good performance in education is study. In many socially deprived areas the reason they perform badly is that the students are in an environment where they can’t study be it due to the parents not supporting them or they don’t have a quiet area to study. This needs to be addressed with some facilities as homework clubs. Whether this is in their Priority funding list I don’t know but from what I have read so far I am not impressed.

One of the next motions was.

devolve substantial powers to local authorities in areas such as transport, housing and education;

-introduce directly elected mayors to replace the existing County Manager system; -and shall place local authorities on a firm and independent financial footing, along the lines recommended in the Indecon Report; -and scrap the ill-conceived decentralization programme and instead devolve real powers and jobs to the regions on a planned basis.

Fellow Irishelection Blogger Cian said before "it was not the department but the power that needed to be decentralised". Personally I would disagree. Politics in this country is to local as it is. The TD member of the legislator doesn’t legislate he/she gets the road fixed with node and a wink politics. They put the services not where they are needed but where the votes are. Giving more power to local authorities is not going to fix this in fact it will make it worst. One village will be preferred to the other because that is where the voters are. Feel free to say I don’t have faith in councillors impartiality because I don’t. Save for a few rare exceptions services go to where the voters are.

One of the most interesting aspects of the Greens is that they don’t take corporate investments personally I could take or leave this policy. Corporate donations don’t make politicians corrupt, corruption only happens if the politician is corrupt anyway. But if it works for them fair enough. It is nice to see people with principles that they stick with. Rurari Quinn tried that with Labour last time around it didn’t work very well but certainly got into my respect book (more a scrap of paper really)

They have also vowed to clear the housing lists by building 10,000 social houses a year. A noble idea not sure how they would pay for it but still sounds good to me. They also proposed a Minister for migrant affairs. Which is an excellent idea. Migration is one of the big problems in Irish society and needs someone to deal with it full time.

I am sorry if a missed out on any major things but the Green Party website has been very poor. They have a blog of the convention that was very patchy on information. The audio of Trevor Sargent is in fact last years speech. Also unlike Sinn Fein they don’t have any of the speeches online. So as I was not at home to watch the speech. I relied on various sources for my post. But anyway on the face of it the Conference was like any other full of bluster and rhetorical nonsense but with one or two nuggets. While it has a long way to go to the election the poll that show the greens have 7% of Irish support, suggests that those nuggets might make it yet to government policy.


Anonymous said...

The term "jackboot" isn't necessarily a reference to Nazism.

e.g. Merriam-Webster

Simon said...

Depends where you get your referance for jack boot I guess.

Still it certainly was a referance to tolitarian dictatorships none of them that were very nice and killed 1000's